Sunday, 25 October 2015

BLOG 271

BLOG 271

Creative stuff continues to go on in the background, stuff that I may have touched on before but which is not worth repeating until further progress has been made. So this week’s blog is about a new piece of work that I am starting. Recently I was showing an Australian quilter how I used quilts around my home and it occurred to me that the only place I didn’t have a quilt was in the study. This is a functional room with desk, cupboards and computer but I think that a quilt draped on the back of the leather chair will soften the environment. All I need is the excuse of course so this is what the curtain and wall look like.


 So to rectify this omission, I rooted about in my filing cabinet and this is what I came across which prompted me into action. I have chosen to make a simple lap quilt called ‘Picket Fence’ and it is a project that I must have taught ages ago judging from the handwritten handout. This project follows on quite neatly from my ‘Multi-coloured Dream Quilt’ because it uses the same technique.

       Picket fence

 These are the fabrics that I am going to use from my stash and the colours are taken from the wall and curtains. Here is the method: Cut the fabric into 2½” x 4½” rectangles. (At this stage I don’t know how big I am going to make the lap quilt but at least I have a good palette to make a start.)



 To make one quarter of the block, lay the fabrics in the sequence shown.


Place the fabrics for row 1, RS together, at right angles to one another (this is the same technique used in my Multi-coloured Dream Quilt.) Draw a diagonal line from one corner to the other if it helps.

         Diagonal line

Sew along the diagonal line with a medium neutral thread and ¼” foot.

        Sew the diagonal
String-piece the shapes to save thread.

       String piecing

I have chosen to sew a second line parallel to the first and ½” away. I thought if the discarded triangles were already sewn, I was more likely to use them in the border.

        Second line (optional)

 Trim away the corner triangles by cutting between the lines of stitches and keep them.


            Corner triangles

Press the seams in the same direction, the general rule being from light to dark.

Join the lines together in sequence to complete the square.

          The square
Repeat this process 3 more times and join the squares together in sequence to make the block. And this is what I like about patchwork; when the separate pieces go together, a secondary pattern often emerges. In this case a star is formed.

           The block

Saturday, 17 October 2015

BLOG 270

BLOG 270

Recently, I came across these samples which were an attempt at free-form applique using my usual colourful palette. One background is just a piece of fabric. The other is made up of squares of pre-fused fabric cut with a rotary cutter and stuck together on point. Looking at the two of them side by side, I cannot see the virtue in constructing a small scale background when there are such lovely atmospheric fabrics available to buy.

                                             Free form applique

 I am trying to think back to when I started them, to decide what I was I trying to achieve. I suppose I have always admired the pen and wash technique used in art (a wash is a transparent layer of colour and it is over-drawn using a black pen) and maybe this is what I was trying to do. I quilted the background with a free motion stitch and sketched roughly around the appliques with black thread.

                                                            Black thread

                                                         Stitch detail

The other thing I have been making progress on this week is the re-claiming of the background fabric from the aborted calendar quilt. Each square included a central sky fabric.

                                                  Original square

This was easy enough to peel away from the fused surrounded because I don’t press my fabrics heavily until I am sure I have got them right.

                             Removing the centre

 Reclaiming the surrounding squares was next, discarding those that had been stitched on.
                                            Reclaiming squares

 What was unusable was thrown into the bin!


 I have a vague idea that I would like to use these squares to create elongated backgrounds for floral strips which I will eventually sell. This means that all the hard work which I put into the original quilt concept has not been wasted!

                                                   Painterly backgrounds

Oh and I had time to do a jigsaw! It reminds me why I like the fragmented nature of my present work; I could never walk past a jigsaw!!


Sunday, 11 October 2015

BLOG 269

BLOG 269

As far as the thread flowers were concerned, all I needed to do was to secure the flowers in place on the sewing machine and add a concealed ring to the back.

                                             Attaching the flowers

                                                            Nearly there

 The floral strip has easily found its place.  I see it every time I walk down the corridor and it gladdens my heart.

                                  Floral strip

 For those interested to know how to get started, I began by placing and overlapping shears in between 2 layers of dissolvable film. These layers were held tight in an embroidery frame.

                                                             Sheers and film

The feed dogs were lowered and a free motion foot was put in the machine. I drew my petals free-hand but you could draw the shapes you want onto one of the dissolvable layers using a permanent marker (this should disappear when the layer is dissolved).

                                                          Thread petals

And then it’s all about colouring in with different shades of thread, a bit like painting really. Be aware of the direction of the markings on the petals and move your machine needle in the same direction as the marks; each flower is individual, so a bit of studying/drawing beforehand doesn’t go amiss. I kept the same thread underneath because I didn’t want to change the bobbin thread every time I changed the top thread and it seems to have worked. And very briefly, that’s how I did my thread flowers. There is so much in-depth information on supplies and processes at the end of your fingertips, just get googling!

And whilst I was slumped over my sewing machine, Suzette’s dog Cookie was relaxing on a faux chenille cushion. You could just hear her uttering ‘peel me a grape please’!


Sunday, 4 October 2015

BLOG 268

BLOG 268

 We have all had a wonderful week of warm sunny weather, unusually for October, and we personally have had a busy week on the roads. Last Sunday, we stayed near Abergavenny for the night and then went onto a funeral on Monday morning in Griffithstown. It was for a favourite auntie on my husband’s side, Auntie Dorothy. It had been a while since we had been at her 90th birthday party and she had suffered mixed health over the following years until the final stitch was sewn in her life’s quilt. I don’t particularly enjoy funerals and attend as one does to remember the deceased and to support the family mourners. What I do enjoy is the get-together afterwards; the general lightness of spirit, the catching-up and reminiscing, the tales of the river bank and so on. It was good to talk!

On Wednesday, 5 cousins on my side of the family came from Anglesey for lunch. The cooking is no problem as I don’t attempt to try anything too exotic and I have always enjoyed having people round my kitchen table. Again there was lots of catching-up and reminiscing, tales of the river bank and so on ….. And it wasn’t a funeral!  It was good to talk!

On Thursday, we journeyed to Abersoch to stay overnight with friends who had rented a house there for the week. This is such a spectacular place, with harbour, bays, cliffs and coastal walks. The weather was great again and the tides were the highest and lowest ever seen. We filled the 2 days with leisurely meals and walks and endless chat. It was good to talk!

Saturday saw me at The Quilters’ Guild Regional Day and I think I talked my way through most of that too! This event is held twice a year in Frodsham and excellent speakers are invited to entertain and inform us about their work. There is often a workshop on the Sunday as an added bonus. I took 2 of my scrap quilts for ‘show and tell’ because they were total contrasts. The first, Lady of the Lake, is a 2-coloured scrap quilt. The fabrics came from my stash, the blocks were set on point and the top was completed before it was put onto the wadding and backing to be long-arm machine quilted.

                                              Lady of the Lake

The other quilt, Dilys’s Multi-coloured Dream Quilt is made from colourful off-cuts; the blocks were also set on point but it was a quilt-as-you-go method where each block was quilted before the quilt was assembled.

                                            Multi-coloured scrap quilt

And here’s what I have decided to do with all the thread flowers from the abandoned quilt. I love long thin wall hangings because they are easy to hang beside a door or in an alcove. It needs a bit of extra work but when I have stopped talking, this I will do!

                    Floral strip